You could not put any price on this. The richest prize in Turf historywas last night settled between two Japanese horses, their riders each wearing a black armband in recognition of travails at home that put even a $10 million race in perspective. Sheikh Mohammed, beaming with joy and emotion, hugged the sobbing connections of Victoire Pisa after he foiled Transcend in a desperate finish to the Dubai World Cup. Katsuhiko Sumii, the winner's trainer, had been emphasising all week that he wanted to give his compatriots a symbol of hope, and there were corresponding scenes of pride and sadness on the podium as the Japanese national anthem was played.
The Sheikh's own horse, Monterosso, had been breathing down their necks at the finish with Cape Blanco beaten less than a length in fourth. As was the case last year, the race proved disappointing for Henry Cecil – and for much the same reasons. Once again the field went along at a diffident pace and Twice Over was trapped wide and behind from his outside draw. He never landed a blow in ninth as all the protagonists – including the winner, rushed up from the rear by Mirco Demuro after he became impatient with the half-hearted tempo to halfway – were left to contest a sprint up the straight.
It was far from an unrewarding night for the British, however, with Presvis winning a first prize of $3m in the Dubai Duty Free – in the process sealing his status as one of the most accomplished horses on the planet. His career earnings before last night had already surpassed £2m, almost all of it in Hong Kong, Singapore and here, and his biggest prize yet was won in trademark, white-knuckle fashion.
Detached in last after missing the break, he cruised into traffic on the home turn and it was then simply a case of whether or not Ryan Moore would be able to thread him through. Turning for home, he was alongside the other Newmarket raider, Wigmore Hall, but Jamie Spencer was delayed in his run while Moore got all the breaks on the inside. As Presvis inexorably ran down the South African mare, River Jetez by half a length, Wigmore Hall was never nearer than at the line, a length and a half away in third. The winner's trainer, Luca Cumani, was moved to the point of tears by the old horse. "It was fantastic to watch," he said. "You always know that's the way he has to be ridden, that's the way Ryan gets the best out of him, and it's just a question of whether he gets the gaps or not."
Presvis will once again proceed to Hong Kong, though the jockey who knows him best may not be available. "They've moved the race to 1 May and it clashes with the Guineas, so I don't know who will ride," Cumani added.
Michael Bell said that Wigmore Hall will follow Presvis to Sha Tin. "That was a nightmare," he said. "He was desperately unlucky, murdered at the head of the straight. I'm not saying he would have won though. We are going to have a serious amount of fun with this horse."
Rewilding came with a sustained run under Frankie Dettori to outclass his rivals for the other big prize on the card, the Sheema Classic, though Redwood excelled himself for Barry Hills in second. Rewilding sealed the arrival of Mahmood Al Zarooni, who only saddled his first winner as Godolphin's second trainer at the equivalent fixture last year. Third in the Derby, Rewilding was always going to flourish with maturity and will fly the flag for Godolphin at middle distances this year.
Saeed bin Suroor, the senior trainer for the Maktoums' elite stable, had already saddled two winners, Skysurfers taking the Godolphin Mile and Khawlah just nailing Master Of Hounds in the UAE Derby. The Ballydoyle raider had kicked clear under Moore but was worn down by the filly, who put her nose in front as they flashed past the post. This was also another testimonial to the blossoming talent of Mickaël Barzalona, the 18-year-old French sensation who had ridden half a dozen winners in the same silks during the Carnival here.
Khawlah may do better still over longer distances judged both on the style of this success and her pedigree (out of a half-sister to Sea The Stars and Galileo) and is 12-1 from 20-1 for the Oaks with Coral. The Godolphin manager, Simon Crisford, confirmed that Epsom would be her target. "You can see she wants a trip," he said. "She's crying out for it. She'll get a nice break now and come back for one of the trials, maybe the Musidora."
The sprints both went to seasoned international performers, J J The Jet Plane on the turf and Rocket Man on the synthetic.Reuse content